Last year, DynDNS shut down its free plans and left a big hole in its place. It’s a shame because DynDNS was always a top mention when free dynamic DNSes were brought up. But now that it’s gone, are there any good alternatives? There sure are.
Dynamic DNSes allow a single web address to map to a changing IP address, which is great for home users since IP addresses don’t always stay the same. If you want to connect to your PC from anywhere or set up a home web server, then a dynamic DNS is one of the easiest ways to do so.
So, about those alternatives. What are they? Are they worth using? Let’s take a look.
Dynu‘s dynamic DNS service allows both top-level domains (using your own domain) and third-level domains (grabbing a subdomain on dynu.com). Top-level domains will work no matter which country the domain belongs to.
The great thing is that Dynu makes setup easy by providing a Dynu Client that runs on your computer in the background. Any time your IP address changes, the client will automatically update Dynu so you don’t ever have to worry about being out of sync.
Features include web redirect, unlimited aliases, wildcard alias, enterprise-level round robin support, unlimited MX records, and custom records. Free accounts get one subdomain while paid members get unlimited subdomains for $9.99 per year.
While the DNSdynamic website is reminiscent of the 90s, their service is one of the best. You’ll see what they offer right on the front page: free and secure dynamic DNS for absolutely free. They also offer a free VPN service if you’re interested.
Like Dynu, DNSdynamic lets you keep your non-static IP address updated by running a simple client in the background. This client comes in two versions — command line and graphical — but both are only available for Windows. Other operating systems can use their secure web interface.
What’s great is that free accounts get unlimited subdomains. What’s even better is that you aren’t stuck with dnsdynamic.org as your only domain choice; there are dozens of other domains you can use.
No-IP was one of DynDNS’s biggest competitors in the free dynamic DNS market, and now that DynDNS is gone they’re in a good position to snatch the crown for themselves. In fact, the two services are only one year apart in age (DynDNS launched 1998, No-IP launched 1999).
For a free account, you’ll get three subdomains on a single domain choice, but these subdomains will never expire as long as you confirm activity every 30 days. You also get port forwarding and URL forwarding, which can be useful depending on your use case.
It’s a pretty basic but robust package. For $19.95 per year, you can upgrade to 25 subdomains on 80+ domain choices and eliminate the need to confirm activity. If you want to use your own domain, you’ll need to upgrade to the $32.95 per year package, which also includes 50 subdomains.
DuckDNS is a dynamic DNS service built using Amazon’s infrastructure. Their website is extremely basic, but that’s fine because dynamic DNS is such a simple service that it doesn’t really call for extravagance.
That being said, the weak design of their website is indicative of what they offer: they only do one thing and they focus all of their efforts on it. It makes sense once you realize that DuckDNS is only run by two software engineers (albeit engineers with a lot of industry experience).
What’s great is that they have a bunch of written tutorials that will help you get DuckDNS set up on a variety of platforms ranging from Windows, OS X, and Linux all the way to DD-WRT, Amazon EC2, and even Raspberry Pi.
Accounts can have up to four subdomains on duckdns.org, though you can unlock more by donating to the team. Plus, they keep as little of your data as possible and store all necessary details in a private database that will never be sold.
Don’t let the strange name of afraid.org scare you away. This dynamic DNS service — they also offer other kinds of free hosting as well — just might be the best one on this list. One quick glance at their feature list and you’ll be amazed by what’s on the table.
You get five free subdomains. You can also use an unlimited number of your own domains if you want, plus 20 subdomains for each one. Account setup takes less than five minutes, DNS pointing is instant, and there are over 90,000 domains to choose from thanks to their shared domain pool. URL redirection is available as well.
Premium accounts, which are $5 per month, get an additional 50 subdomains, a wildcard DNS, and three stealth flags to hide your domains from any kind of sharing mechanism through the service.
Which Will You Choose?
If you ever want to set up some kind of server on the web using a home box, there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with a dynamic IP address that could change at any moment. A dynamic DNS allows you to use one single address that can point to you regardless of what your IP address actually is.
Fortunately there are plenty of people out there offering dynamic DNSes for free, so why not give it a try? These are the best of the best, but feel free to look around for alternatives.
Do you use a dynamic DNS? If so, who hosts it for you? Ever had any bad experiences with a dynamic DNS provider? Would you ever pay for this kind of service? Let us know in the comments below!